William (Elmer) Boggs
August 21, 1915 – January 27, 1995
Elmer at Buffalo Arch, which he named
© Byron Crawford
Elmer was a Staff Sergeant in World War II and graduated from the University of Kentucky. He was born in Breathitt County, Kentucky and farmed at an early age on the family farm. He became the McCreary County Extension officer, a role he held for years until retirement (see obituary below for more information). He was friends with Andy Griffith (not that one), who was with the U.S. Forest Service. They started searching for arches in McCreary County in 1957. Elmer told the Louisville Courier Journal that they had named 21 or 22 arches in the Big South Fork area of McCreary County. He went on to say that Andy and he would debate for days about what to name an arch. They put a lot of thought into naming them, which has made the names stick over 60 years later.
Some arches they named:
Wild Horse Arch (lost)
Hanging Arch (lost)
Elmer was quoted as saying, “They’re beautiful works of nature. And no two of them are the same.” Elmer also explained that there was not much interest in McCreary County arches back when they were searching for and naming them. All the interest was in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky. It was his hope that one day the public would know of the arches he documented and named. That trails would be built to them by the National Park Service. Luckily for Elmer, his names have stuck, and the trails have been built.
Below is Elmer’s obituary as it appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday, January 29, 1995.
WHITLEY CITY - William Elmer Boggs, retired McCreary County extension agent, died Friday at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset. He was 79.
Mr. Boggs, a native of Noctor, established one of the first 4-H environmental education programs in the South, the first county 4-H forestry camp in Kentucky and the first 4-H forestry camp for girls.
He was a World War II veteran and a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
He also was former president of Big South Fork Development Association and served on the Kentucky Forestry Council for 10 years.
Mr. Boggs is survived by his wife, Irene Boggs; a son, Elmer Douglas Boggs of Olive Branch, Miss.; two daughters, Sarah Ellen Boggs Conatser of Walton and Mary Jane Boogs Wilson of Los Angeles; four brothers; two sisters and six grandchildren.
Services will be 1 p.m. Monday at Stearns First Baptist Church. Visitation will be after 6 p.m. today at Hickman-Strunk Funeral Home.
Crawford, B. (n.d.). Christening arches is man's claim to fame. Louisville Courier Journal, pp. 1 & 6.
Staff. (1995, January 29). Retired McCreary extension agent William Boggs dies. Lexington Herald-Leader, p. B2.